“The thing about Yasmin,” said Arthur Elgort in a recent phone interview, is that “she’s never changed.” Indeed, very few models have as timeless appeal as this slender, elegant Englishwoman who was discovered in Oxford, and who first appeared in the May 1985 issue of Vogue at the age of 20. Photographed by Arthur Elgort in the Bahamas, the story was styled by Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele with hair and makeup by Christiaan and Linda Cantello, and, says Le Bon, it was a breakthrough shoot in terms of makeup and styling. “You know,” she says, “you really couldn’t have paid me to walk out normally in the clothes that I would wear in magazines. And yet this was the first time I’d come across the kind of clothes—they were luxurious, they weren’t cheap, they were designer—that I actually felt that I could wear.”
So it was you and Arthur and Linda and Christiaan in the Bahamas . . .
. . . in the Bahamas, with Carlyne. And it was, I believe, not only my first shoot for American Vogue, it could have been her first shoot, as well, as a fashion editor. I had literally arrived in New York for the first time ever about two days before this shoot. I arrived with all my bags and dropped one or two of my suitcases off with my booker. [I] had nowhere to live in New York, had nothing sorted, I had a couple of suitcases and flew off the next day to the Bahamas, and blow me, but the airline lost my luggage.
And so I’m there, in the most beautiful place, it’s my first job for American Vogue, my first with everybody—and I have absolutely nothing but the clothes I arrived in. Luckily, Arthur being Arthur, he can shoot anywhere: The hotel was beautiful, the weather was gorgeous, and you know he loved to make life easy, so we actually didn’t leave the hotel complex at all.
I spent the entire week in the hotel dressing gown! I think I borrowed a couple of the swimsuits from the shoot after we’d shot them. It was hysterical. I’d literally spend all day in the bathrobe and that was it. It couldn’t have been more relaxed, really. I was so unbelievably excited to work with Arthur and with Christiaan, and with Linda Cantello: I had done my homework, I wasn’t the kind of model who just turned up and didn’t know anything about the business. I knew who all the photographers were, who all the hair and makeup people were, the stylists, so it was a really big deal for me. And Stephanie Seymour was on the shoot as well, and Arthur’s gorgeous wife, Grethe.
And we all got on so well, we got on famously from the very first shot. Arthur and I just got it, basically. I was so blown away by him, he’s such an entertainer, the most entertaining man you’ll ever meet. He has got stories and stories and charm from beyond.
I notice that in one shot you were wearing one white and one black ballet shoe.
[Carlyne] was being a little wacky with that. Nothing was too dressed-up or taken too seriously. It felt quite fresh, which was unusual in those days.
I love the fact that I look back at the pictures and I can see the hot sweatiness in one of the pictures. Linda was just so genius, she didn’t even try to dab me down, it was cool, it was okay to look like that. That was quite a breakthrough, you didn’t really see that in magazines. There’s a great picture with the mirrored sunglasses, the close-up, my hair’s in the black headband, and I think that’s the point, that everybody felt so confident in what they were doing and there weren’t any dramas—everybody just had a really, really good time. There were no egos at all, it was very refreshing. Of course I thought every shoot was going to be like this—and it wasn’t. But, you know, every shoot with Arthur was.
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